Space: 2016 events

Space: 2016 events

2016 will be packed with space industry events. This is just a small a selection, but be careful as some of the dates may change!

It is of course impossible to mention all the launches for the coming year. So, many telecommunications or GPS satellites will leave for their working orbit. Similarly, the automatic cargo ships heading for the International Space Station are not included. However, we have given the (scheduled) dates for manned flights to the ISS.

It is also impossible for us to predict the discoveries from current missions such as exploration spacecraft (on Mars, around Ceres, etc.), space observatories or Earth observation satellites!

27-28 January
Ariane 5’s first flight of the year


The diagram, provided by the French space agency, CNES, gives the key figures for this Ariane 5 flight.

The European launch vehicle will take off from Kourou carrying a single satellite, Intelsat 29e which will relay telecommunications for the Americas and North Atlantic. This 6.7-tonne satellite will be put into geostationary transfer orbit from which it will reach its geostationary working position (using its own thruster).
The launch scheduled for the night of 27 January (00:20h in Paris on 28 January) will be broadcast live by Arianespace.


22 February
30th anniversary of the launch of SPOT-1

It will be 30 years since the first Satellite Pour l’Observation de la Terre (SPOT) was launched in 1986 using Ariane 1. SPOT-1 was the forerunner for a prolific family of observation satellites for our planet. SPOT-6 and 7, built by Airbus Defence & Space, were launched in 2012 and 2014.

14 March
Launch of ExoMars 2016
EDM_module_being_installed_at_the_top_of_the_TGO - copie

The European Space Agency (ESA) returns to Mars! Indeed, the 14 March is the day that the launch window opens to target the Red Planet (available until 28 March). Under an agreement with the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, a Proton launch vehicle (from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan) will carry the ESA’s ExoMars spacecraft (the photo shows its preparation on the ground at its manufacturer, Thales Alenia Space). This is a twofold mission because the ExoMars spacecraft called TGO (Trace Gas Orbiter) must place itself in orbit around Mars while the small Schiaparelli lander (or EDM for Entry, descent and landing Demonstrator Module) will land next October.
Official website:

Event at the Cité de l’Espace to follow this launch:


Early March
Return of Soyuz TMA-18M from the ISS
Les Russes Sergei Volkov et Mikhail Kornienko avec l’Américain Scott Kelly reviennent sur Terre à bord du Soyouz TMA-18M. Kornienko et Kelly auront alors passé presque 1 an à bord de la Station Spatiale Internationale.


18 March
Soyuz TMA-20M to the ISS

The Russians Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka, with the American Jeffrey Williams, will fly to the International Space Station on board TMA-20M from Baikonur cosmodrome.


5th June
Return of Timothy Peake (TMA-19M)

The British European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut, Timothy Peake will return from his mission on board the ISS with his colleagues Yuri Malenchenko (Russia) and Timothy Kopra (USA).
Timothy Peake’s official website:


21st June
Soyuz MS-01 to the ISS
The Russian Anatoli Ivanishin, the American Kathleen Rubins and the Japanese Takuya Onishi, will fly to the International Space Station on board MS-01 from Baikonur cosmodrome.


4-5 July
Juno arrives around Jupiter

On the night of 4 July, NASA’s Juno spacecraft will fire its principal thruster in order to slow down and be captured by the gravitational field of Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system. The robotic explorer will then take around one hundred days to reach its scientific working orbit, orbiting the gas giant primarily to study its magnetic field and stormy atmosphere.
Official website:

Event at the Cité de l’Espace:


17 August
20th anniversary of the first flight by Claudie Haigneré

In 1996, Claudie Haigneré (formerly Claudie André-Deshays) became the first French woman in space during a 16-day mission on board the Russian space station, Mir. During her second flight in 2001, she spent around ten days on board the International Space Station. She is a patron of the Cité de l’Espace in Toulouse.
3 September
Launch of OSIRIS-Rex

NASA is set to launch the OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft which will reach the asteroid Bennu in 2019 in order to bring back a sample to Earth in March 2021.
Official website:


End of the Rosetta mission

As a fitting end to the journey around comet 67P by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) spacecraft, the plan is to attempt to land on its nucleus. It is not certain that the landing will take place without harming Rosetta which is not designed for this manoeuvre, but the data collected during its approach will probably be of great scientific interest.
ESA blog on the mission:


7 September
Return of Soyuz TMA-20M from the ISS
The Russians Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka, with the American Jeffrey Williams, will return to Earth after their mission on board the International Space Station.


23 September
Soyuz MS-02 to the ISS
Les Russes Sergey Ryzhikov et Andrei Borisenko avec l’Américain Robert Kimbrought s’envolent vers la Station Spatiale Internationale à bord du Soyouz MS-02 depuis le cosmodrome de Baïkonour.


19 October
Arrival of ExoMars 2016

On 19 September, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) TGO (ExoMars) spacecraft will place itself into orbit around the Red Planet. Released 3 days previously the 600-kg EDM lander called Schiaparelli (after an Italian astronomer from the 19th – early 20th century) will land on 19 October on the plain of Meridiani Planum. If successful, Schiaparelli will be Europe’s first functional lander on Mars.
Official website:


30 October
Return of Soyuz MS-01 from the ISS
Le Russe Anatoli Ivanishin, l’Américaine Kathleen Rubins et le Japonais Takuya Onishi reviennent de leur mission à bord de la Station Spatiale Internationale.

15 November
Thomas Pesquet takes off for the Proxima mission (Soyuz MS-03)

The European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut, Thomas Pesquet will become the tenth Frenchman in space when he takes off for the International Space Station on board the Russian Soyuz MS-03 (with the Russian Oleg Novitskiy and the American Peggy Witson). The ESA component of his mission has been named Proxima and he will carry a rock from Mars which has been given to him by the Cité de l’Espace in Toulouse.

Thomas Pesquet’s official ESA website: